HOW TO USE DATA TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS
The importance of data collection, cleansing, security, and more
By Pam Deanovich
Every agency/brokerage is different, but all of them collect data of some kind. Many firms, like Compass Insurance Services, where I serve as commercial lines account manager, track data to boost customer retention, obtain new business and hold staff accountable. This all helps keep our businesses growing and thriving.
Why collect data?
When it comes to customer retention, it is important to note that customers are looking for a quick turnaround time for responses, and technologies like Applied CSR24 provide easy access to all of their insurance information. Technology also can streamline contact with customers at renewal, generating letters and emails to thank them for their business.
An agency or brokerage can further use technology to examine and understand its current book of business (i.e., policies written) and then use that data to determine whether it can cross-sell or upsell missing products, such as cyber liability.
As for the use of data in generating new business, it’s imperative that agencies and brokerages have a producer structure in place that sets forth guidelines for current and future client prospecting. For my team, our agency management system offers opportunities for follow-up and also to assess new client progress. It also updates feeds with renewals, new business and production goals to show producers how they are doing.
Meanwhile, those in charge can use audit reports to help audit our current data and management systems, and hold staff accountable to our standards.
[O]ur customers are online using insurance portals each and every day
because the policies are available at their fingertips.
Paving the way for future technologies
Data cleansing plays a major role in various tasks, keeping your management system ready for new systems and technologies to which your agency or brokerage may want to transfer information.
Some agencies and brokerages still perform day-to-day operations as they always have and prefer to maintain the status quo. For some, it is all they know. For others, the firm may not have enough staff to adopt new technologies. Some recognize that technology is continuously evolving and they are satisfied with the technology they currently use and the efficiencies it provides.
- Regardless of how they choose to operate, important considerations come into play when it comes to data collection and organization. Tips I find to be valuable in this regard include:
- Be sure the agency implements consistent workflows and producer structures.
- Make it a point to audit every department; that means accounting, employee benefits, commercial lines, personal lines, and so on.
Perhaps most important, agency ownership and other leaders must be willing to make a change or advancement to technology as needs dictate and opportunities present themselves.
Along with data collection and organization come security concerns. Agencies need to pay attention to the security of the data they collect, especially if staff members are using paper notebooks, sticky notes left on computers, and other methods outside of the firm’s internal structures used to protect data.
I recognize that it can be challenging to get owners, principals and team members to move away from paper files, especially when they have always done things that way and do not trust management systems. However, companies are becoming more efficient with downloads of application data and the use of electronic documents. In fact, a majority of our customers are online using insurance portals each and every day because the policies are available at their fingertips.
Agencies and brokerages can service customers more quickly and more easily via calls, emails or texts versus having to pull a paper file. While there may be a time and a place for sticky notes, usually data can be input directly into a specific field. When done correctly, this protects client and agency/brokerage data and enables more effective marketing to customers.
It is critically important for agency and brokerage owners and team members to understand the importance of technology in our ever-changing world. If they’re not sure, they should reach out to peers in their local networks to gain a better understanding of where their agencies and brokerages are and where they can go.
Ultimately, agency and broker leaders must understand the benefits of technology to collect valuable data, to boost business, and increase efficiency. Effective data collection, cleansing and organization go a long way toward achieving those goals.
Pam Deanovich is a commercial lines account manager at Compass Insurance Services in Wisconsin and a member of Applied Client Network, which oversees this TechKnowFile column.